How quickly does football fervour turn to hatred?

I seem to remember reading once that intelligence services like the CIA find that, contrary to what you might think, fanatics are surprisingly easy to "turn."

I'm not sure why. Maybe they have such extreme views and unrealistic expectations that disappointment and disillusion are inevitable. Or maybe being fanatical about a cause is not about the cause itself, but fulfils a personal need to believe in something very strongly, so in the end it is not that difficult for a fanatic to jump from one cause to the other.

The Euros was an event which gripped much of the nation, but in the aftermath there has been a bitter aftertaste. Much was made in the coverage about the passions stirred and the devotion of the fans.

There is also a pachyderm about. How quickly love and devotion turn to hatred – real, genuine hatred.

When, at the start of the war, the actor David Niven abandoned his Hollywood career to come to Britain and rejoin the army, Winston Churchill told him he had done a very noble thing.

"However, if you had not done so, it would have been despicable," he added.

Football managers generally find themselves in a broadly comparable position of extremes. Gareth Southgate is held up as a model of a master strategist exemplifying qualities of dignity, modesty and restraint, a man who did England proud. That is because England did well in the Euros, getting through to the final.

But anybody with any knowledge of the history of the England team will know that if they had been knocked out ingloriously in the group stages the very same people who are now patting him on the back would be holding him up to ridicule, probably comparing him to some root vegetable.

In collective football fanatic psychology, the journey between these scenarios at opposite ends of the approval spectrum is but a small step.

Sadly, as we have seen with the treatment of players who missed penalties, and the coronavirus super-spreader riot at Wembley which had overtones of Donald Trump supporters storming Capitol Hill, there is this nasty undercurrent in football and I would posit, m'lud, that is because a lot of those who bring shame to football are not football fans per se, but rather are fans of football teams.

The difference is that to be a fan of a particular sport means loving the sport itself above all, and appreciating and applauding the skills of the best exponents even when they are the opposition.

"Oh well played sir/madam," is not something you're likely to hear on the terraces describing a footballer in an opposing team. (I said "on the terraces" as "standing on the seats" doesn't have the same ring).

In top flight football, it is tribal support for your team which trumps everything else. So the game isn't the thing, your team is the thing.

At junior level, there are good intentions in making it about fun and involvement – the pressure of competition can come later. One local league stopped reporting the scores in matches, and just gave all results as 1-0 wins, 0-1 losses, or draws, so children at the end of 13-0 thumpings wouldn't feel humiliated. It didn't catch on because children at the end of 13-0 thumpings are not fooled, nor is anyone else.

From my own limited experience, even in teams involving young children the managers and coaches are at risk of morphing into Sir Alex Ferguson mode and starting to convince themselves that if there is no winning there is no fun, with the result that they start picking only the best players, which means an end to inclusivity and opportunity.

So I put it to you, members of the jury, that while there is nothing wrong in enjoying great sporting occasions, as otherwise there is no point to them, we should not go so far as treating them as international war by proxy even to the extent that there are messages from the Queen and the Prime Minister in support of the cause.

Congratulations to Italy. England gave it a good go, but on balance Italy deserved to win, both on the night, and also for their performances over the tournament.

In a continuing global pandemic, let's put this sporting disappointment for England in perspective. The words of Boris Becker, after a shock result when he was knocked out in the second round at Wimbledon years ago, are apt: "Basically I lost a tennis match. I didn't lose a war. Nobody died."

Opinion polls show that concern about climate change and the environment runs at high levels among the young, as they see it as their future which is being trashed.

Talking about being trashed, the warm spell will bring lots of people of all ages into green parks and green open spaces to enjoy the summer sun. There have been occasions when this has happened recently that their departure has revealed those green parks and green open spaces to be strewn with trash and litter they have left behind.

In those cases not all of them will have been responsible, and those evil older people Greta has warned us about will have done it as well – but all of them left the mess for somebody else to clear up.

It is time the Government stopped treating Extinction Rebellion activists as the enemy, and instead recruited them, giving them green uniforms and green peaked caps and paying them to send special units to attend such gatherings equipped with megaphones with which to berate and encourage people as necessary.

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